The editor of the Sun said farewell to our retiring Police Chief Jeff Kirkpatrick with more eloquence than I ever could in the Thursday, June 9 edition. However, I had a slightly different relationship with Chief Kirkpatrick’s department than the editor did. Even before I was made an assistant editor and full time employee of the Sun, I wrote the Crime Log. That meant weekly dealings with three law enforcement agencies: Los Alamitos PD, OC Sheriff’s Department and Seal Beach PD. It has been a positive experience, all in all.
Los Al PD, the OC Sheriff’s Department and Seal Beach are unique entities. All three are grand organizations, staffed by grand people. If there are less than ideal individuals in any of these institutions, I have not encountered them in six years.
That said, I must confess that the Seal Beach Police Department is my favorite of the three–not just because I live in Seal Beach (near the Rossmoor and Los Alamitos borders), but because individuals within these agencies have sometimes taken extra steps to help me do my job. They could have simply said they didn’t have the time. They obviously have more important things to do. I remember commenting several years ago that I didn’t have a current copy of the California Penal Code. The public information officer at the time, then sergeant (now Lieutenant) Bob Mullins provided me with a copy. The current PIO, Sgt. Steve Bowles, has phoned or e-mailed me on weekends and on his days off in response to my questions. Capt. Tim Olson, Kirkpatrick’s second in command, was the first police PIO I worked with upon returning to journalism after a lengthy absence from the news business. It must have been like working with a rookie reporter for Capt. Olson. He graciously put up with me.
That’s professionalism and class, two things all too seldom seen in either the public or private sector these days. Those three men are but a reflection of the chief they served.
I seldom had direct dealings with Chief Kirkpatrick, but I could tell he cared for his people and the civilian community. On a couple of rare occasions, when no one else was able to help me, he took the extra step of helping me. Again, he had more important things to do.
When you don’t know a man well, the best way to judge him is either by looking at his family or his business. Well, I’ve had a chance to watch his business for a few years and can only say his successor will have a tough act to follow.
Thanks, chief. It was always a pleasure—and an honor.